The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode 120 · 2 months ago

Breaking Out of the Manufacturing Echo Chamber

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

It is easy to do the same thing repeatedly, but there is no better time than now to start thinking differently as a manufacturing leader.  

Nikki Gonzales is the Head of Partnerships for Quotebeam, a collaborative marketplace and workflow platform for the industrial automation industry. She helps buyers cut their sourcing time from weeks to days by building partner relationships with distributors and manufacturers in the space. Nikki is also the host of the Automation Ladies podcast, where girls talk about industrial automation. In this episode, Nikki offers her perspective on how manufacturing leaders can begin to shift their mindset.  

Join us as we discuss:

  • How the Automation Ladies Podcast came to be
  • Why is manufacturing such a male dominated industry and what needs to happen for that to change
  •  What is Quotebeam, why it’s important, and what are some of the unique challenges that come with working in a startup
  • Nikki’s perspective on the supply chain crisis and where it is headed

Open up your ears to different sources that may not be in your c suite or your board of advisors or the normal people that you that you listen to. Look for sources that are maybe a little bit contury into what you hear or or people that you're not used to being around, because our industry has kind of you know, we're very good at talking to each other in an echo chamber. M M H. welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B two B sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerilla seventy six. Sometimes it's easiest to just keep doing things the way you've always been doing things. But from sourcing materials to adopting emerging automation technology to recruiting Labor from different corners of our workforce. There's no better time than right now to start thinking a little bit differently as a manufacturing leader. My guest today will offer her perspective on how today's manufacturing leaders can start shifting their mindsets. Let me introduce her. Nicki Gonzalez is the head of partnerships for quote, being a collaborative marketplace and workflow automation platform for the industrial automation industry. Nikki is also the CO host of automation ladies, a new podcast where girls talk about industrial automation. Nicky, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Yeah, I'm excited to have you on here. I see you around a lot online and I've noticed your show recently, Um, and so I'm glad we got to finally meet a few weeks ago and Um, kind of set up a conversation here for this podcast. Yeah, absolutely, thank you. I guess UH, online is my new community now. I've moved around a lot lately, so it's uh, it's it's great to be able to make those connections, even if people are far away. Awesome. Well, whenever I have another guest on the show who also has a podcast in in particular one in the manufacturing sector. Right. I love to shine a light on that. To tell us a little bit about automation, ladies, how you got started, why you decided to do this. Um. Would love to hear that story. Yeah, sure. So I've been in the industrial automation industry, I guess, about a little over fifteen years now, since I graduated college. Um. I became a sales engineer for machine vision systems and that was my first foray into manufacturing. Really. I had done technical sales and been involved in Engineering Um through my dad's business growing up, but not really seen a lot of production plants or manufacturing facilities, Um, and I...

...just kind of looked into it. Honestly, I wanted to do something technical. Um. Always had that sort of engineering background, but I ended up getting a business degree and so I looked into finding my way into industrial automation and I became an outside salesperson, Um, and sort of a all in one role for the machine vision systems is the very technical so I had to go out and usually set them up in the plant, UM, write the program test all the lights, make sure that everything worked before I was able to sell a single thing. Um and I used to cover a geographic territory in the San Francisco Bay area that included everything from advanced R and D applications like solar cell manufacturing and cars and cell phones, to poultry processing and ice cream plants and fruit canning facilities, and I just got this amazing insight into how all kinds of things are made and the journey that it takes to Automo some of that stuff and you know, inspected and all these things. And generally I was one of the only women in the room or on the plant floor when I was, you know, working in that industry. Um, there were not even that many of us in in sales. I'd go to the National Sales Conference and, you know, there'd be less than a handful of us out of hundreds of people. And generally that sort of you know trend persisted in my career as I moved to different positions in different areas of technology within manufacturing. Um. That was kind of always the case and it never really bothered me. It was something I was pretty used to. I got a lot of uh warnings when I first joined the industry. I'd go and join calls with with sales guys and they'd say, you know, just you're gonna have to put up with this and you're gonna have to put up with that and just get over it. And so I was very used to just smiling and nodding and, you know, putting up with some uncomfortable things but generally working with really great people. Um. And at that time, you know, the online community was not really there for this industry. You know, there were social networks and social media, but much more on the you know, facebook, personal side of things. Linkedin was around, but more of a place for recruiters and resumes, Um, and so it was very much this sort of siloed existence. As as a lady in Automation, Um and I would occasionally meet other girls and we'd have a ton of fun talking about what we do, but in my day to day life that didn't happen. And then, Um, I took some time off from the industry after I had my my daughter, Um and sort of, you know, left Linkedin and everything. And then after when I joined quote beam last year and came back to Linkedin, a lot of things had changed. With covid. I think it just forced a lot of people to come online that normally would be, you know, going to their customers facility and shaking hands. They weren't able to do that anymore. So they came to Linkedin to talk about what they're doing, and that's where I found my co host, Ali, who is the systems integrator. Um, she's a controls engineer. She's out there in the field doing stuff and she was posting about it and all...

...of a sudden I realized that, Hey, there's a lot more ladies out there like me that are really into automation. are in the manufacturing industry. We Geek out about P LCS and robots and all kinds of stuff like that, and it's uh, we can connect and have fun with it. And so, you know, I also came and saw that there are shows like yours. Right, a lot of the podcast in our industry are fairly new, within the last two to three years, right, um, but same thing. I saw, you know, a lot of great conversations happening between industry thought leaders and CEO S and and you know everything in between. But it kind of, you know, generally reflects that same makeup, which is not very many women, because there just aren't that many women in the industry. Um, and we sort of offline. We took it, Um, and we were having some conversations and little zoom meetups on Saturdays where we were, you know, wrangling our kids and talking about robots at the same time. Um Ali doesn't have kids, but some of the other women in the in the chats and stuff, and I just thought, you know what, if we make we need to make this publicly available to other women to find, because it's been such a cool thing for me, Um, to find some other women that just we can, you know, talk about all that stuff and be into automation and and the manufacturing stuff and, you know, learn with each other, teach each other and at the same time, like we have something to relate to each other, um. And also, just because where women doesn't mean that we're automatically can relate to each other. Like that's just one piece of the puzzle, right, Um. But that's really why we started automation, ladies, because I felt like it was missing. I complained about it a little bit and I've learned over the years. Uh, it makes a lot more sense if you're going to complain about something, you know, if there isn't a solution in place and somebody else doing it, then you need to do something about it or stop complaining. So I decided to do something about it and so I pinned Ali. I didn't really know her very well at the time. She was just my favorite, you know, content creator in the space in terms of like she was just doing it, out there, posting about it, and I thought, you know, if anybody would be in in a complementary role to to me, which is I sit on my computer most of the time and wish I was out there in the field, and so I get to live vicariously through her and we get to have these conversations and talk to people in our industry. Um, just having slightly different conversations than you know, you would with your guests or CEOS of these companies would with their guests, just adding to that discourse, uh, and that's really where where we're coming from with it. And, Um, it's been a bit of a challenge. We don't have a lot of time because we both work, you know, more than full time jobs, essentially, Um, and we're both heads of household and we have a lot of responsibilities, but it's it's just really important to us and we've had some really amazing conversations and the community support has been awesome. So that's you know, we have some we have a lot of episodes recorded. We have one linkedin live that's out there on our page, Um, and the...

...rest of them are in production. They will be released very soon. Um. I keep saying that. I know it's one of those things. It will it will happen. Well, good for you for doing it. I Love Your Story and I love your motivation for making this happen and I guess I'd said my advice to just keep going. It's gets it gets easier, I promise you. It was a lot more painful when I was on, you know, in my first ten twenty episodes, and than it is now, a few years later, and Um, but it's it's been a really rewarding experience for me and I think you're gonna feel find the same, if you're not already. So very cool. Yeah, I mean we are, and we've said this from the beginning, when we recorded a bunch of stuff, Um, and at first we had no idea what we were doing. We were doing. Some of the recordings are like two hours long. We probably can't even edit them into anything useful. But I told Ali, look, if even if we never publish a single thing, this thing will have been worth it because just the conversations that we have had and the people that we've met and just connected with and created a community with that in and of itself is worth it, even if we, you know, never get anywhere with the podcast, which we will, and it'll it'll get out there, but you know, it's just that's also one of my tenants for doing anything new, really like any kind of new big goal is is keep it step by steps so that every single step is of value. Even if you don't get to the next step, or even it takes you longer to get to the next step than you think, then at least you've gotten something out of it so far, instead of trying to, you know, go too big too fast, and then if it doesn't, you know, work out the way that you expected, then it's then it's worthless. Um, that that sort of mentality for me goes across automation projects, digital transformation, I mean you name it like I. That's my philosophy on things with you, piggyback in on on your on that last question, Nikki, and kind of your motivation for doing this show. Um, I'm curious from your perspective, why does manufacturing remains such a male dominated environment and what needs to happen for that to change? So it's it's a complex answer. Um, it's a big question right. Why there? I think there's there's quite a few factors to that. I think a big part of it is just visibility and representation. So it traditionally has been a male dominated industry and so women don't see a lot of themselves in those roles and in those industries and it's also not a sector that is very well known and like popular culture, you know, you have a lot of my kids watch like TV shows and they want to be superheroes and fairy princesses and Mermaids when they grow up, and then they get to another stage where they want to be firefighters or policemen or things that they see these characters, you know, playing on these shows. I don't see a single one that works in a manufacturing plant. So it's not something that kids go oh, yeah, I want to be a manufacturing engineer where I want to, you know, make cars. They're like, I want to be a race car driver, but who builds and designs the cars? You know, those are not really seen as options as much, I think,...

...in popular culture when kids are growing up and trying to decide, okay, where do I want to go? What? What do I want to do, what interests me? And then, in particular, if even if they do hear about it or see it, it's usually because they know people that work in the industry or they see their relatives. Right. So again it's a lot of male role models. Um, you don't see a lot of female role models in the manufacturing industry that kids can relate to and say, Hey, I want to do that when I grow up. And so that's a generation. I mean that's a long term problem and, you know, something that will take some time to solve and I think in our education system as well, like school counselors, nobody when I was in high school made it seem like there was any kind of option to do anything other than just, you know, go to college and get a degree and Um, there it was very much or maybe maybe like you know, only for the kids that can't go to college right where. I think that that's the wrong, uh, sort of attitude to have. The trades are extremely important and there are roles in manufacturing that require college degrees and then there are roles that don't and there are a lot of different pathways, Um, to to grow right, whether it's through community college type degrees or trades programs, apprenticeships, Um, getting in on that factory floor. There are so many different amazing ways to kind of advance after you get into that Um. But we definitely think the biggest part is just historical representation and an access in the attitude that these jobs are for everybody. And I think you know, in the past a lot of manufacturing jobs were very manual labor oriented, which makes sense that then they were a little bit more geared towards men if it, you know, had to be able to lift hundreds of pounds or things like that. But today's manufacturing jobs aren't that Um and I think also actually looking back at like the manufacturing industry and Silicon Valley for instances, is not very well publicized, but most of those manufacturing jobs were actually held by women that used to work in the orange groves, Um and and add jobs that then got taken over by semiconductor manufacturing. Um and the Labor on the factory floors of most of these high tech manufacturing companies was actually all women, Um, but again, these stories are not told very much, just like a lot of the female leaders in our you know history, Um, I didn't know a lot of cool things that were invented by women, Um, and it took you know, Aaron Prather posting about it to tell me that, like Oh, women invented such and such, and I'm like really, Um. So we just really, you know, need to both change the perception of what these jobs are and what types of people can fill them, um, as well as get that information out there more broadly so that more people want to come into the industry, because there's a huge labor shortage. Not only do we just in general need more people, um, but in order for companies to stay competitive and innovative and, you know, to continue to grow and change,...

...that's important and to get you know, you need a diverse workforce to be able to really do that, Um, and I think that's really the future of you know, business in general, is companies that are going to be innovative and sustainable are are gonna want to look at, you know, having a diversity of people working for them, not just enough people to to fill the roles. Well said, you know, I think the manufacturing sector needs more faces like you and Ali and Megan Zimba and people who are out there vocal about this and creating a platform and venues for, you know, these topics to be discussed and exposed to more people. So I applaud you for what you're doing. Thank you. Okay, let's take a quick break here. I want to let a couple of our strategists at grill seventies tell you about something pretty cool that we're doing right now for marketing folks in the manufacturing sector. Peyton and Mary, take it away. Yes, so I'm Peyton Warrant and I'm Mary Kio. Twice a month we host a live event called industrial marketing live right now we have a group of fifty plus industrial marketers from a variety of manufacturing organizations. We meet up digitally to learn, ask questions, network and get smarter. Every session has a designated topic and one of our team members at guerrilla seventy six opens up by teaching for the first half hour or so. Topics have included how to get better at a manufacturing Webinar, getting started with paid social on Linkedin, how to optimize your website for conversions, creating amazing video content and so much more. After we break it down, we open it up to q and a so we can help you apply all of this in your own businesses. This is pure value, no cost, no strings attached, no product or service pitches, just so unadulterated learning experience. Oh and on top of these live sessions, we've also opened up a slack channel where our attendees bounce ideas off each other and learned together all week long between sessions. We're building a true community of manufacturing marketing professionals here. So if you or someone at your company has the Word Marketing in his or her job title, please consider telling them about it. They can visit industrial marketing live dot com to register. We love to see you there shifting gears here a little bit. Nikki, your bio is short and sweet, but I'm curious to hear a little bit more about quote beam and what you're doing there and why it's so important right now. Yeah, so we are coming in at a pretty good time right now with with building this, but it's been in the works for a long time, Um and some not something that we just came up with yesterday, but really went full time with the company last year, and so what we're building is an online platform to bring the purchasing of industrial automation parts in particular. Um. There's a lot...

...more, you know, that we have planned and that goes into that. But right now, so you know, that demand for automation is just skyrocketing. Right, we want to bring manufacturing home, we want to make manufacturing more competitive, we want to be able to, you know, increase throughput in quality while struggling with not having enough people to make goods. Right. So automation is the answer to a lot of, you know, the challenges we have in the manufacturing sector. Uh, in addition to being able to attract quality people to work there, because working with robots is a lot cooler than, you know, coming into do something repetitive and boring all day. Um. But anyway to build machines that do automation, and we can be talking about there are a lot more advances now and a lot more availability of general purpose robots that can be programmed to do automated tasks. But traditional, you know, main automation and manufacturing is is really custom machine building, because if you want to make something at a high throughput, at a high quality, you want to design and have a machine that's made specifically to manufacture your goods Um and ideally, you know, as much of an automated production line as possible. So a machine and then conveyors and then handling and then packaging and vision and all that stuff. And Right now one of the big challenges in implementing automation, even if we have the money to invest, is the supply chain, Um, and just being able to build these systems. So there are challenges in our industry that have been around and have predated the supply chain issues we're having now that are due to covid and a whole bunch of other reasons, um, but especially now it's it's even worse. The one of the one of the, I guess, a little dirty little secrets of the automation industry, the Industrial Automation Industry, is a lot of the back end of it is still pretty old school. Um, it's not very much automated right. So there are still companies sending, you know, purchase orders in the mail to buy a robot Um and then somebody goes and keys in that information into their little system and there's a lot of us bubling our work or tripling our work with somebody, you know, sending a request for quote over email and then calling to follow up on it, and then, you know, there's the distributor. Have to call the vendor to get the lead time information, and it can take up to four weeks just to source a pretty simple building materials to build a machine, and that's just to be able to find who to buy the product from, who has it available, to get pricing, Um, and that's not even talking about getting it on order and then having to wait, in some cases not up to two years to get the parts because there's such a backlog and a shortage of components at all the major it doesn't matter what brand you're pretty much talking about at this point, they are all struggling with different things because there's shortage of components, from plastics to chips to wires, cables, I mean all kinds of stuff, um. And so really what we are trying to do, at quote being is to build a marketplace that can make it easier for users to find who...

...they can buy what products from, because we unfortunately have this sort of legacy way of selling these products that is very much siloed between geographies, different distributors carry different products and you can only buy certain products from certain places. Um. And you know, we're in two now. It's a digital age, right. People are used to going on the Internet, finding what they need and clicking a button and buying it. Um. And, as much as that's not the reality of most of what goes on in our industry, a lot of are purchasing is, you know, planning a lot more further ahead and you're not just going on the Internet and pointing and clicking. But sometimes you need that as well, and so we're building a marketplace that it allows access to the products and the vendors, as well as the ability to collaborate around these big, you know, complex bills of materials with lots of different technologies that need to go into these complex machines. Um. And so we wanted to build a modern workflow automation platform that allows buyers to communicate with their vendors and for them to manage the orders, the quotations and everything that goes into that Um without having to make a bunch of phone calls and exchange pdfs and managing it all in their email, which is kind of you know how things are going. We used to replace the fax machine with emails, which are great, but now everybody's email inboxes are inundated with, you know everything, all kinds of communication, internal, external, Um, you name it, and it's just it's not a great place to manage processes like this anymore. Um. So we want to bring a little bit of automation to the people that build the automation that goes into our manufacturing industry. Very cool. What's it like to be working at a startup that's helping the manufacturing sector modernize, at least in one corner of manufacturing? So it's the unique challenge. I would say it's it's not for everyone. Um, it's definitely for me. I've found out I'm one of those people that just enjoys the uphill, you know, steep climb, learning curve all the time, always having to figure out some the new you never in a position to say that's not my job, because there's generally just not enough people to do everything that needs to get done. So you have to jump in and do all kinds of stuff. But I grew up in it right. So my dad's an electrical engineer that started his own business when I was in middle school. I worked for him. You know, all throughout college I got to do almost every job imaginable at the company, and so I think I just kind of have that built into me a little bit, that I want to be of help in every area that is necessary and I love growing things. Um, and this is my this is, I guess, my third startup that I've worked with now, so I'm a little bit familiar with the craziness. Um, I did jump into it this time, you know, with Eyes Wide Open in the sense that you know, startup life is not easy. Um, it's you. You generally, you know, don't have backups for things, you don't have a department you can fall back on if you take a vacation. Um, there's generally too many things to do in a day and not enough resources to get it done. But when you're really really passionate about building something...

...that you think is really necessary and it's going to deliver a ton of value, Um, that's what keeps us going every day and that's why I every day that I wake up with an overwhelming amount of stuff to do, I'm still just excited and happy to be doing it. Um, and it is, you know, part of it is I used to do it the old way. I used to be what I consider to be the problem that I'm solving. So I feel like, you know, between me and Roman, our CEO, who used to be a machine builder, we've lived this problem long enough that we, you know, are are just committed to get out there and solve it. And it's a challenge sometimes because you've got to convince people that think everything is fine the way they've been doing them for years that they, you know, might need to change things. Although I've not realized as I get older and as I've done this longer, is sometimes you don't need to be the one convincing people either. You've got to find the people that already know that they need something and then, over time, you know, you can maybe lead by example or change other people's minds. I'm not going to go in there on a sales call on hammer and and say hey, you know, everything you're doing is wrong and we're gonna, we're gonna fix it for you. Um It just you know, it doesn't work very well that way. Um, and some people realize that they need change and others don't. And the main problem I have and what I want to do, and part of the reasons why I'm trying to just, you know, kind of get the word out there is when you do find the right people, they know exactly what you're talking about because they've lived that same pain and they go, Oh, you're here to fix that. That's amazing. I want to be part of that. I want to try it. How can I try it? How can I be involved? And and those are the most fun conversations to have, and that's kind of to like what gets you through the low points of of, you know, startup life, because there's always different things that break or things that don't go your way or or whatever. It's those Aha moments when the customers know exactly what you're talking about. Um, they know exactly what problem you're trying to solve and they're so happy that you're doing it that it really makes it be the whole thing where it yeah, everything you said over the last couple of minutes I can relate to so closely as somebody WHO's trying to help change the perception of what marketing should be in the manufacturing sector. And I it's the same thing for me. It took me long enough to realize I'm not going to be able to change everybody's mind, but I can create visibility. When the right people who realized the way we've been doing things for the last thirty years isn't working anymore and and they see that there's a solution, like that light bulb goes on and Um, it could be a really great fit. So yeah, I was just kind of sitting there nodding as you were talking because I feel that I get it and I've always been that person that comes into a role to do something and then I see five things upstream and downstream of my role that I think need to change in order for me to do what I need to do more efficiently. And I realized I have a really hard time when I get pigeonholed in that area and then I'm told, oh, that's a great idea, but we just do things this way, you know, or you know,...

Oh yeah, good luck with that, because we you know, it's going to take us five years to implement anything new. Like some people are perfectly fine with that and they feel comfortable in those types of rules where they're just responsible for a certain thing and the entire organization, you know, has a lot of moving parts and I realize I'm just the wrong person for that, because it drives me crazy when I can't change the things around me that I think need to be changed. Um, and a manufacturing industry is like it. It's it's a unique thing because it's like the forefront of everything cool, as well as the dinosaurs coexisting in the same place. Mickey, you've spent a lot of time staring into the face of the supply chain crisis and and you know all the challenges that are coming along with that. What's your perspective on sort of the outlook? where? Where is it headed? Um, how's it going to get better? So that's that's yeah, that that is a complex topic and one that I don't feel like I have some sort of crystal ball answer too, because it is a big systems problem, both, you know, geopolitical as well as you know resources. There's a lot that goes into it, but at the core of it, a lot of the problems we're seeing currently in our industry in terms of automation technology is the chip shortage because and there's a lot of different industries competing for these computing resources right and at the you know, at the smallest level, we've got the raw materials that go into these chips. And then what do they make with that? Right? Do they make chips to make more iphones, or do they make chips to make plcs that go into manufacturing facilities? And I think, you know, it's pretty easy to see where the big demand is coming. You know, we've got automakers that need chips. Right, the bigger the companies, the bigger their brand and their pull and their contracts, their supplier relationships, those are the industries and the companies that are going to get access to these products first and unfortunately, a lot of the vendors in in our space maybe don't have as much of a pull when it comes to getting the resources they need to build their equipment. Um, we are, you know, starting to see a lot of investment in chip FABS, both here in the US and in other countries, to try to break this Um I don't know what you would call it monopoly, but a lot of the chip fabs are kind of concentrated overseas, right, so we're all reliant on this supply of these chips that are coming from, you know, a handful of places and there's only so much capacity. So if we'll start building chips all over the place, including here in the US. Um, these facilities take a long time to build, though, and they're going to have supply chain problems building the equipment they need to build mar chips, because there are things that go into chip FAB facilities and machinery that makes chips. So of course chips have to be made in a completely very automated fashion because these are like nanometer type processes, things that are impossible to do by hand. These are...

...very sophisticated machines and they use a lot of specialty materials like gases, Earth, you know, minerals, metals and even things like valves and tubing that are specialty pure for purity processes, because we can't have any tiny piece of contamination that goes into a chip. That thing is not going to work. Um, there are a lot of bottlenecks in the supply chain for all of those things. So even if we build the FABS, we still have to rely on getting the materials and the machinery from just a few different places. Um. So there you know, we are going to see, I think, the leveling out of this supply and demand problem, which has been very severe the last few couple of years. Um, but I think we need to really rethink how we source and supply and build these things Um, with more interoperability in mind, and I think that that's one of the biggest changes that we'll see coming out of all of this. Um. The past very much allowed for single sourcing type relationships, Um, using a certain brand only or a certain vendor and that vendor being able to fulfill everything that you need, and I think that that's you know, that's not going to be the way of the future and to be locked into one specific platform or technology or vendor is a very dangerous thing, Um, and and that's something that you know, we are going to continue to see different types of volatility in the world uh and supply chains. As much as we want to bring them home and be self sustained, sustaining or, you know, have everything here in the US, it is impossible because we cannot move a mind of a precious metal to the US or the source of a gas that's needed in a process. We can't move that right. So we have to learn to play together. We have to come together as a community, as a world community, or maybe, you know, a coalition of countries that see that this needs to happen and work together, and that's kind of on the on the macro level. On the micro level, when I'm talking about you know, machine building and manufacturers, it is more critical than ever that you establish good supplier relationships and multiple supplier relationships, because you never know what may happen to a portion of your supply chain or particular supplier. I mean, we have some manufacturing facilities here in the US that are so old and have a lot of, you know, equipment that maybe hasn't been very well maintained. I mean, we've had instances of factory fires right where all of a sudden the supply of a certain raw material or finished good is just devastated because of an entire factory is no longer operational for some period of time. We need in order to have resiliency in the supply chain, we need to be able to work with different vendors Um and have some interoperability, and I think that goes as far as like designing things to be more flexible so that we're not stuck with one specific spec with one a civic vendor Um and a huge cost to make...

...that design change Um, and also an ability to see, you know, connect to the data in our supply chain a little bit better so that we have better visibility into options, Um, and we don't get stuck in this oh now I can't get my part. My entire machine is going to be held up until I get this part delivered. Um. We, we just we have to move forward, uh, with playing together more nicely instead of always thinking, okay, I'm gonna wrote my customer into my thing and create a competitive advantage and a moat and all this stuff based on technology or usability. I think at this point the companies that are gonna, you know, win this race are going to be open to working with other vendors, but they're going to win the customer relationships based on their customer experience, having the support and the relationships and treating their customers well and helping them problem solve. Um. I think those are the vendors that are going to win in the long run and not ones that just force their customers into buying what they have because they have no other options. I love your perspective on all that. Thank you. I you know, not everybody agrees, but it's something that I care a lot about and I think you know, it's an inevitable thing, whether you like it or not. Um, things are changing. Key. Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you'd like to add to this conversation? Well, if we're talking about manufacturing executives and companies that you know are are running manufacturing operations, I'm sure they're thinking about all this stuff and uh, I would just say, you know, open up your ears to different sources that may not be in your c suite or your board of advisors or the normal people that you that you listen to. Look for sources that are maybe a little bit contury into what you hear or or people that you're not used to being around, because our industry has kind of you know, we're very good at talking to each other in an echo chamber, and I'm guilty of that as well. People that are into automation, I used to think that almost all manufacturing facilities had a lot of automation because I used to go into them when I was selling automation to people that were already interested in automation. I didn't know that many, many facility, manufacturing facilities, have no automation at all, because I had no reason to be there right Um, and I'm starting to learn all about that and all the different roles and all the different things that take place in a manufacturing facility that is maybe not, you know, super automated or up to date. And so I just would encourage everybody to start, uh, opening up your horizons a little bit connect with people that you otherwise might not have um because the ideas and the innovations that come out of that Um it's not something that you can necessarily predict or measure very well. But I've had some of the most amazing both realizations and my business and connections and and opportunities, you know, come from these sort of unplanned just opening myself up to to listen or be part of communities or conversations that I wouldn't necesarily think directly, you know, were for...

...me to to start with Um. So that's, you know, part of what we're trying to do with automation, ladies, is bring all kinds of different perspectives onto the show, not just the people that are in charge, because it's you know, when you're in ahead of a big organization, it could be very difficult to really know what's going on, you know, on the plant floor or in your you know, your maintenance shift at three am, Um, or or whatever that may be. But that's sometimes where, you know, a lot of the amazing insight comes from, is is those people. Um. So just keep, you know, keep your your eyes, your ears and and your heart's, you know, open to to change. Uh. And Yeah, you can follow us on automation ladies or check out, you know, quotium dot com if if you're in the purchasing or sourcing area and you need help with parts, um, but otherwise, you know, find me on Linkedin. I don't really have, you know, much of an agenda there than to get some of this cool stuff that we're learning out there, out there and try to connect the community so that we can all, you know, grow in and work together, Um, to make the manufacturing industry better. Beautiful. Well, Nikki, this is a really good conversation. I appreciate you coming on the show today. Thank you very much for having me, Joe. I really appreciate it. You're betting for everybody listening here. Please do take a moment to go follow and Nikki Gonzalez on Linkedin, check out the automation ladies podcast and see what quote beam is up to. So, Nikki maybe we'll do this again down the road. This was really great. I loved your perspective and again appreciate you doing this. Thank you. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast to ensure that you never missed an episode. Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player if you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy. G you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for B two B manufacturers at guerrilla seventy six dot com slash learn. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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